Monday, April 22, 2013

F is for Family


Blogging Through the Alphabet

My family is incredibly important to me.  I am sure yours is to you as well.

Family time is one of the main reasons we choose to homeschool. 

We like to learn what we call Family Style, hence the name of my blog.

Our favorite way to learn and my favorite way to teach is Family Style.  I like when we are all learning together.  Don’t get me wrong we do some subjects individually.  Math, Reading, Language and then I have the older kids in a much higher level science.  I always include my younger kids in any experiments they are doing.

We also do history together. I do a read aloud living book.  We also do other family activities.  In fact, each day we take the afternoons and do family subjects. 

One of my favorite sayings is

“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

You planned, now what?

Let’s say, you spend your entire Sunday night lesson planning for the following week.  You have everything planned out, a schedule in place, all the supplies you need (you think), and you are feeling really good.  Great, in fact, like this next week is going to be amazing.  I mean just look at those pretty plans.  You, my friend, are going to get so much done! 
It’s Monday morning, you have kept your plans realistic, so you aren’t starting school at some crazy early hour like 9 am.  No, you plan to gradually wake the children, let them come down to breakfast and get ready for the day {hahahaha}, and you have set an official start time of 10 am. So far things are going good, except for you forgot to plan breakfast, so the kids all decide on something different, bagels for one, cut fruit for another, one more wants cereal and the baby wants waffles (for every meal).   Fine, since you want this week to go so well with attitudes and all you decide fine they can all eat what they choose for breakfast.  Then we will start school at 10 am you tell them.
It’s now 9:40 am and you call up to the kids, “20 Minutes” then come on down to get started.  That is when the fighting starts,
“She’s taking to long in the bathroom”,
“If he would quit bugging me I would have been done by now.”
“Uh Oh, Mom, I spilled juice all over the floor!
One of the girls remains quiet.  You go to make sure she knows, only to discover she has gone back to bed!  UGHHH! 
You will not give up hope yet, after all you spent so much time and effort planning!  You left some wiggle room, you do know your family, after all.
This can still work, will it really matter if you start school a few minutes late?P6251569
10:30 rolls around and you finally see all children in the same room.  You have already started the 2nd grader on her morning book work,  You have the baby occupied doing puzzles and the older boy has begun his copy work and is moving on to math.  You are feeling pretty good.  Then you realize you are still missing a child.
“Hmmm, where could she be, I know I woke her up TWICE!!”
You go up and check, sure enough she is still in bed!!
You ask her why?  What made her so tired today?  She informs you about how she stayed up so late reading.  She begins to tell you all about the book she is in.
You decide to let it slide, since she was up reading.  You let her know she has 20 minutes to begin her morning independent work or else!
Heading back downstairs you find that the 2nd grader instead of doing her math is now doing puzzles with the 3 year old.  Fine, they are getting bonding time.
“I need to get this breakfast mess cleaned up!”
By the time you get much of the mess cleaned up it is now 11.
You get the 2nd grader back on task by having her read a simple picture book to her little brother while you listen and switch out the laundry (which you left off your wonderful plan!)
Finally!!!  Ms. Sleepyhead is up!  You make sure she gets started right away on her morning independent work. 
Hmmm, where is the 8th grader.  He is supposed to be doing his independent work. 
You go find him, in his room, working.  You think, “I wonder if he heard me coming, or if he was working the entire time?”  You may never know!
Now you spend some time reading aloud a silly chapter book to the two younger kids until it is time to start lunch!  YES!!! This was on the plan.  You do a little WHOOP WHOOP, in your head of course. 
You make an amazing lunch of macaroni and cheese with ham and broccoli.  You know casserole style.  At lunch you read a One Minute Mystery and discuss it while you are all eating.  Ahem, also on the plan!
After lunch, you do a family quick clean.  (Yep, on the plan, things are looking okay!)
After the clean you decide to do your family subjects; history reading and science experiments.  P6301589
You read aloud a chapter from Sacagawea.  Sometime during the reading that baby heads upstairs to play with toys.  (mmmhmmm, plan!)
You all move around the table, ready for science.  The kids begin reading while you gather the simple supplies needed.  Like a paper cup, a rubber band, some index cards…
“Wait, who used all the paper cups?  I bought those specifically for this science!” 
You decide you can improvise with plastic disposable cups you find in the back of the pantry. 
“Ok, your behinds are saved. I think these will work.”P7071650
Yea, NO, they don’t.  They are much to big and they crack to easily when the pressure that you need to apply is applied. 
“Fine!  Do you guys understand what this experiment is trying to teach you?  Do you see how this could have worked?”
They say they do.  You hope they really do. 
The baby has joined you sometime in all this.  It is nearing 3 pm and you decide it is time for a break. 
You begin to play outside with the kids.  (not on the plan, but it’s okay!)
You hear a scream!
You go running in the house!
Your 8 year old is crying, you try to figure out what is wrong. 
“What?  Where did you get hurt?  What is going on?”
Between sobs you get out of her that her butterfly cage with the butterflies she has been raising for the past 6 weeks was tipped over and it’s not looking good. (NOT ON THE PLAN!)P7031619
You run upstairs and sure enough, tipped and the feeder leaked everywhere.  4 of the 6 butterflies did not survive what is now known as the butterfly massacre. 
The 3 year old comes and says “Whoops, sorry.” as you are cleaning up the mess.  Ah ha, a confession.  That’s what he was doing. 
After cleaning out the cage, and letting the survivors know how sorry you are, you go back outside.   Then the neighborhood kids begin to come out to play.  You decide to head back in the house and switch that laundry again!  (yes, on the plan!)
Your husband arrives home from work and wants to go to the store right then.  You would love to go with him, so you do.  (nope, not on the plan)
You head out to the one store in your small town, you look “real nice”.  Real nice as in sweats and frizzy bun hair and no makeup. (betcha know what store I went to, huh?)P3081352
Of course, we run into someone he knows.  (NOT ON THE PLAN!!)  You try to act busy and hide.  Not wanting to be seen.  Then they acknowledge you. 
“Hi! How are you doing?”
“Me, uummm, I’m good,  just real busy!”   bye now, you think.
You are done – hungry and just want to go home and hide under your covers of embarrassment.
Your husband gets what he was after and you head home.
You keep your menu plan flexible so you choose a quick and easy dinner for tonight from it. 
While cooking your 3 year old has an accident, in his underwear.  (NOT ON THE PLAN)
You get him upstairs, give him a quick shower and get him in pajamas.  Then the smoke alarm goes off.  You realize you forgot to turn the heat down on the stove.  CRAP!!!
“Honey, let’s just go get something to eat.”
You go to your favorite little Mexican Restaurant and everything is great. 
You come home and get everyone ready for bed and clean up from the dinner you cooked. 
You get the kids in bed. Being quite sure to inform them not to read past 10pm.
You sit on the couch and think, what can I write that has to do with plans failing.

You see I know nothing about plans not falling apart.
No matter how hard I try,  life happens. 
Something I have come to realize is that the less I plan, the better off our days actually are.  The more we actually get done, or so it seems.

Click to read more stories about what happens “When Things Don’t Go As Planned”

This post is part of


A little note for you: Not everything in this story is true. Some of it is fictional.  Yea, yea,  that’s it.  : }

Saturday, April 20, 2013

E is for Exercise


Blogging Through the Alphabet

Well, here it is.  It’s that time of year again for me.  I want to be more in shape and healthier.  I don’t know why I don’t feel the same in the winter.  I always tend to eat more fruits and veggies in the spring and summer.  I also have somewhat of a desire to work out.  I have been struggling with that this past little while.

I will start out really great.  Doing about 30 minutes of hardcore – to me – exercise each morning.  Then something comes up and I take a day off. 

One turns into ummmm,  a long time.  Then the cycle starts all over.  I even joined an online exercise support group and they encourage me and let me know that it’s okay to fall.  Just get back up and try again. 

That is what I am here today doing.  Smile 

I will begin exercising each day for 20 minutes of focused exercises.

I will exercise 20 out of the next 30 days. 

That has to be doable for me. HASTA!!

Anyone have a routine they recommend? 

Hopefully next week for F I am not writing about Failure!! 

This is linked to:

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Check out what others are blogging about for the letter E. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sacagawea {an interactive e-book review}

Knowledge Quest is a fairly well know company in homeschool circles.  They are most well known for the vast variety of maps and history resources they offer.  We were lucky enough to be able to use a new product. We received Sacagawea (Brave Explorers Every Child Should Know) Complete PDF e-book.  Ages 10+ ($4.97) Written by Karla Atkins.

Now this isn’t just any old e-book about Sacagawea. This 4 part series has been put together to make one complete book.  The book takes you through the beginning of Sacagawea’s life to her death. This book has interactive links, clear throughout the book.  Many words take you to great websites or pictures or even just descriptions.  This created rabbit trails for us and left my children wanting to know more. 

This 16 chapter book is 112 pages long in iBooks.  The interactive-ness of this book has made it so it has taken us a lot longer to get through then regular books. We only clicked on links that interested us.  It was very convenient to have them there. 

My family did enjoy this book, including my 8 year old.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

This is Our Time {Giveaway}

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My family recently had the a wonderful afternoon.  We spent it watching a great movie, that was family friendly too!

We watched This is Our Time a movie from Pure Flix.  This movie is about 5 recent college graduates that head out into the “real world” to do what they THINK God has planned for them.  You follow these five people each going through different things.  Marriage, charity work, corporate America, as well as one who just doesn’t know what his God-given-purpose is.  He feels left behind by God.

These 5 people make an incredible impression on you about how life happens how God wants it to, not necessarily how you want it to.


Check out the Rafflecopter for how to win a copy for your family!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

The Homeschool Mothers Journal ~ Turkey Hunt Edition

  • In my life this week… We have been gearing up for the opening of the Turkey Hunt. My son drew out on an early season tag.  We spent the first part of the week schooling packing and getting our trailer ready to go camping.  Tommy and I had to fix a broken water pump.  After research and trying a few things we figured out it was just a blown fuse.  We were able to fix it quickly. The second half we went up camping.  It was cold the entire time.  The first night we just chose a quick spot and set up for the night.  BIG MISTAKE!!  Since our trailer wasn’t level our furnace didn’t work properly.  BRRR.  It was cold all night.  It was opening morning and as soon as the boys got back from hunting we decided to move the trailer to a better camp site, one where we could level the trailer.  We moved and had a great rest of the day.  The boys were back and forth between camp and some hunting spots.  It was so cold and windy that we decided to head home that night after dinner.  No turkey yet.  They are blaming it on the weather.  Yea, that’s it, the weather.


  • In our homeschool this week… We have been really slacking in our formal schoolwork.  We are sure to fit in the reading, and math each day.  We were lucky if we were able to get much more done than that.  I figure a little easy week is good for us sometimes.  We are getting back at it full swing slowly this week. We did get a few Physics Quest lessons in. 


  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… Slow times are okay.  There are times like today that one of my kids goes through 5 math lessons in one day.  Other days we are lucky to get through 1/2 a lesson.  It all ends up working out in the wash.

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  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Camping and Turkey Hunting.

  • My favorite thing this week was… The fact that even though conditions were definitely not perfect, my family and I were able to enjoy the adventure.

  • My kiddos favorite thing this week was… Katey’s favorite thing this week was that she started her Handmaidens of Virtue class.  She has been so excited and patiently waiting for it to start.  She is even keeping track of it on a calendar.  Emily had her first two softball games this week.  A double header.  Her team won both, and Emily played like a champ!

  • Things I’m working on… not getting angry so quickly.  I am also supposed to be working on getting up earlier.  However as I sit here typing this at 1am.  I see the flaws in staying up late. 

  • I’m cooking… Soups and Bread.  We are just in a soup and bread mood around here with all this cold weather.

  • I’m grateful for… shelter and heat!

  • I’m praying for… My father-in-law.  He had hip replacement surgery this week, all went well and he his healing great!  Of course all the people affected by the bombings in Boston and around the world.  Our Soldiers.  The people in West Texas.  My husband as he travels through some pretty rough storms.

  • I rewarded my kids this week by… letting them have an easy week.


  • Something I am ogling or have my eye on…

I really want to make this Sopapilla Cheesecake. I had it at a funeral a few months ago and I can’t get it off my mind.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Leadership Garden {A review that changed my life}

I was recently sent a kit from The Leadership Garden

Included in my kit was:
Check below for a discount code good for my readers!

What is The Leadership Garden?
Leadership Garden empowers young people and old six leader-friendly gardening practices.
  • Be nonjudgemental
  • Do not enable
  • Use empathy
  • Prune gossip
  • Eliminate blame
  • Eradicate victimization
These six practices are the core of The Leadership Garden Legacy.  Imagine a world where people like this are the norm! How great would that be?
The acronym U.N.I.Q.U.E. is used often. 







U.N.I.Q.U.E. KIDS Growing My Leadership Garden

This book is written for 8-12 year olds.  A lost sheep named Hugh meets a gardener named Leda.  Leda shows him how to “plant a courageous seed”.  Annabelle is a Border Collie that takes him on tour around the farm where Hugh meets other animals that help him plant other leadership seeds along the way.  Hugh uses experiences from his past to help him change into the leader and sheep (person) he wants to be.  At the end of each chapter are “Hugh wants to know”.  This is where Hugh asks you [the reader] questions about your experiences and thoughts. 
U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within

This book is written toward adults and is somewhat similar to the kids book about as using Hugh, the sheep, and other animals along with the gardener to go through all of the different parts of the garden.  This book uses the authors real life (sometimes traumatizing) experiences.  You still apply the things to your own life and there are questions and activities to for you to personalize and act upon.  These build upon one another. 

The Leadership Garden Guidebook

This book is more of an activity workbook to go along with both of the above books.  It is written so that it can be used interchangeably with both the books above.   There are still tidbits of information and writings in this book along with the worksheets.  P7041634P7041630

The U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Activity Guide and Leadership Garden Journal

This PDF book was full of activities that will hit home for the younger ones.  It relates the message of how to reach your full potential in a fun kid friendly way.  Some of the fun activities are taking a Brain Field Trip, a You Presentation and more. 

What I thought and how it has already changed and is changing my life!

For me and us this came at the perfect time.  I was at a slump in my life.  Don’t get me wrong I am happy.  It is more of a slump within myself.  I wanted to be proud of who I am, what type of mom, friend, wife, teacher, etc. that I am.  Using these materials has showed me just who is in charge of that. I am!  I make me who I am.  I cannot let anyone else decide who I am.  I choose how I act and how I react.  I am in control.  That has been so empowering for me.

I have been doing this right along side my children.  I have been reading the adult book and they have been reading the kids book. We have all been doing the activities out of the adult guide book.  We I do not make them share their experiences or feelings unless they choose to.  I do glance at their writings, more of a journal throughout this process, to be sure they are participating.  I think that them knowing that I am not going to be reading what they write they are able to be more open and honest.  They are teenagers after all. 
We decided to make this simple quote poster.  We are just jotting down quotes throughout these books and this process that stick out to us.  Everyone is allowed to add quotes to the board.  This was it when we first started it.  

It is so empowering to know that we are using these tools to better ourselves.  It is nice for us all to know we are all on our own journey, together.

Here is the discount I told you about earlier!
Leadership Garden Legacy is offering the TOS Community a “Spring Special Discount” of 20% on all their Empowerment Tools. This is in addition to their already discounted Tool Kit bundles.
To receive your discount, enter the discount code: TOS-SS20D upon checkout. This code will expire on May 31, 2013.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

D is for Debate



As some of you may know, I teach a debate class to teenagers through our local homeschool co-op.  I have a great time doing it and I want to share with you how easy it truly is. 

I use The Art of Argument as my spine.  Each class we learn about and discuss a few fallacies.  It averages out to 3 per class.  We keep those discussions short and simple.  Sometimes we watch sections of the videos as a group.

Some of the enrichment activities we have done are:

  • act out fallacies
  • find magazine advertisements with fallacies
  • create our own print ad fallacy
  • debate on fun and serious topics

I am pretty sure that everyone’s favorite part of the class is the debating part of it.

After all, they are teenagers who like to argue.

We use simple debate topics that I get from searching the web.  Mainly I search “debate topics for kids”.  With these smaller ones, we do individual debates rather then team debates.  I give them about 15 minutes to prepare and then they get 3 minutes each to argue their side.

Sometimes I read them debates out a a book 50 debate prompts for kids.

We have done 1 big team debate and will have one more team debate.  Our first one was on should algebra be required in high school and our next one will be a silly one on which came first? the chicken or the egg. 

Teaching this class has been so rewarding for me and I know my children have benefited from it too.

  One of my biggest fears was teaching high school kids. I have found it easy and fun.

I hope you see how easy it really is to teach a co-op class like this.


Linked up to

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Small Basic Programing for kids.

Technology is our future and I certainly don’t want my children left behind.  The more comfortable they are using a computer the better I feel.  Thanks to being able to review Computer Science for Kids my 8th grader has been learning the computer language Small Basic with Beginning Small Basic.  Ages 10 and up.  Regular $59.95 on sale until July 4th, 2013, $34.95!

Beginning Small Basic is a series of e-books that I was quickly able to load on my iPad and my son was able to get started right away.
It really did start with the basics of installing Microsoft Small Basic and making sure it was running properly.  You also learn about the history of computers and the languages they were programed in. By the third book, you begin writing your own programs. 

Each book (lesson) starts with a review of the concepts learned previously.  You build on from that. Every book also has some fun examples for you to follow that get you thinking about what other things you would like to create.

Some things you learn are how to build are:
  • A Savings Calculator Program
  • A Guess the Number Game
  • Lemonade Stand Simulation
  • How to get the computer to shuffle a deck of cards
  • An Electronic Blackboard Game
  • and more.

By the fifth book you are debugging your programs.  By the 8th book you are adding graphics.  By the 9th book you are learning animation.  The 10th and 11th book are teaching you about other programs and codes. 

For us the books were very easy to follow.  Yes, I say us.  I couldn’t help but do this along with my son.  Learning like this is so fun that it doesn’t even feel like learning.  Isn’t that how it should be? 

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chicken Games Activity Book


Katey has been having so much fun lately starting her day with a few brain teasers just right for her age. 


Chicken Games & Puzzles has 100 Activities for kids. Written by Helene Hovanec, Patrick Merrell.

I know it sounds funny, a whole book of Chicken Games.  That is what it is.  It is funny. 


Not only is it fun, it is educational.  It starts off simple and works it’s way up to more difficult. 


The activities are simple enough for her to be able to do but they get her brain going in the morning.


There are even fun riddles in it.

There are all kinds of fun puzzle books written by Helene Hovanec, and Patrick Merrell.

Check them out from Storey Publishing.

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